Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of Aloha Hawaii December 12, 2004
Summery: A pretty ship, a good crew (please tip your fellow Americans if you get O K service), very good entertainment (better than Holland America), O K to good food, O K cabin with balcony, Hawaii very lovely, and rent a car! A group of seven of us have returned from a seven day Pride of Aloha cruise starting December 12, 2004. We had NO complaints regarding the NCL crew, the food or the ship. We live in Florida and most of us have cruised many, many times, especially on Holland America. Originally, we were scheduled to cruise on the Pride of America and when that ship was damaged, we were transferred to the Pride of Aloha. Because of the very bad online reviews and newspaper reviews (St. Petersburg Times, etc.), I almost cancelled this trip. So, this good opinion of the ship and crew is not the result of a Pollyanna type of reviewer. One other point, I spent my life as a professional and I expect a ship to be run in a professional manner. Once again, I am not being overly gracious with this review.
First let's deal with the crew: as you may know, they are all from the American 50 states or America's possessions (Guam). The crew that I talked with said . . . "they worked 10 hour days so that after four days, they are on overtime and were paid accordingly and received benefits. . . and they were O K with this" The opinion of the seven of us was that the crew was very motivated to give good service and we all certainly did receive good service at our evening dinners (5:30 p. m. in the Palace Main restaurant) and by our cabin steward. Which brings up the matter of tipping. On boarding the ship, we were notified that NCL would NOT charge any extra money for the crew service. I was very happy then to tip our steward and evening waitress and her assistant. As we had the same crew and table for seven nights, we did our tipping at the end of our cruise. If we had had good service and a different table with a different crew every night, then, in retrospect, I would have tipped every night. Plan your tipping accordingly. 5:30 p m was a good time to have dinner, eat leisurely pace and then go to the evening's entertainment (the evening entertainment was much, much better than on my ten previous Holland America cruises.). I do not know what the service was like if one ate in the Place at a later evening time. On the two formal nights, our ladies dress up a little and we fellows wore sport coats, no tie! I guess that this is Resort Formal? I would have like to tried the reservation only Kahili or the Pacific Heights or the Royal Palm Bistro restaurants, but our group was happy with the Palace restaurant. . I generally ate the lido restaurant (cafeteria) for breakfast while others in our group ate at the Palace. This caused an occasional problem as apparently the Palace breakfast service could be slow and some of our group were late for the morning off ship activities that we all were going to take part in . . . more later.
Second, the ship and the cabin: The Pride of Aloha refurbishment has given this ship a beautiful interior with lovely public rooms. It is a very nice ship. The shops are also pretty, but way over priced (example: I had just purchased at Walmart in Tampa a 128 MB card [digital camera] for $15.00 and I notice a similar 128 MB card in the Aloha's shop for $80.00 at four times the price I had just paid). While we usually come back with various items from the Holland America shops, none of us were very interested in the Pride of Aloha shops and therefore purchased nothing. Our cabins were all the same with small balconies. The cabins are very, very small, but sufficient for two persons. . . very crowed for three persons. The shower is nice. I followed a previous passenger's suggestion and brought seven plastic hangers (for tee shirts, etc) . . . as there are only three or four small drawers in which to put things. . . but O K closet space. While our travel agent had requested by phone and fax an egg-crate mattress under our cabin's mattress, they were not present when we got into our rooms. However, our room steward took care of that for all three of our cabins by 6 p. m. of our first night. Otherwise, the mattresses are really hard (there is plenty of room under the double bed to put your suitcases). Because of the known smallness of the room, we had all just taken just one carry-on suitcase per person and one medium sized suitcase for each couple. That limitation was probably not necessary. I put the little table (found in the room) out on the balcony to give us more in cabin room. Actually, sitting out on the small balcony was nice.
Lastly, the tours: at Kauai and Maui I rented a minivan for the seven of us and at Hilo and Kona I rented a smaller for just my wife and me. Even though my wife and I had been to Hilo and Kona we once again wanted to drive around the island. We used Hertz, but there are other rentals like Dollar, Avis, etc. These companies meet you near where the ship docks and drives you to the airport to get your car and then drives you back after you return your rental car. For us, it was much cheaper and nicer than getting on a tour bus. Our next cruise is a repeat cruise on Holland America, the Rotterdam in this February. So, we like cruising. Hope this helps. Bye and God Bless. Tom.